Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are in Egypt, where they are taking a cruise along the Nile. They are hoping to see some ancient temples and a mummy or two; what they get, instead, is murder.
Also travelling on the SS Hatshepsut is a mysterious society called the Breath of Life: a group of genteel English ladies and gentlemen, who believe themselves to be reincarnations of the ancient pharaohs. Three days into the cruise their leader, Theodora Miller, is found dead in her cabin, stabbed during the night. It soon becomes clear to Daisy and Hazel that Theodora’s timid daughter Hephzibah, who is prone to sleepwalking, is being framed. And within the society, everyone has a reason to want Theodora dead…
Daisy and Hazel leap into action and begin to investigate their most difficult case yet. But there is danger all around, and only one of the Detective Society will make it home alive…
As I sit down to write this review, I have to admit I’m feeling a bit emotional. We have finally reached the conclusion of the Murder Most Unladylike series with the publication of the 9th book and this wonderful series is reaching the end. Did the final instalment give us a satisfying ending? Let’s find out.
Death Sets Sail already has the incredible, Agatha Christie-ode setting of Egypt and as our detectives embark on a cruise across the Nile, they realise once more that foul play follows them wherever they go. With a mysterious cult-like society who believe they are all reincarnated versions of Egyptian gods and goddesses, Daisy and Hazel might be in for their hardest mystery yet. And the stakes are so high that only one of them is going to make it home alive.
Firstly, I’m going to start off by saying that there will be no spoilers in this review! And secondly, I absolutely loved this book. Not unlike the other books in this series, every time I put the book down I couldn’t stop thinking about Daisy and Hazel and their mystery. I have had the pleasure of reading these girls and their adventures for the last few years, so it was rather bittersweet to be at the end of their journey. But I don’t think Stevens could have executed the ending any better.
I was so scared of being left disappointed, but it didn’t let me down one bit. Death Sets Sail was one of the best books in this series! The setting was so vivid, I loved the mystery and getting to know each of the suspects. I also loved that we basically had the whole cast of the series in this farewell – with Alexander, George, Amina, and even Hazel’s father and sisters (I especially loved the cheeky May – but who didn’t?!)
Overall, this was an amazing ending to a fabulous series. Robin Stevens should be so proud and I am so glad that I’ve been able to follow Hazel and Daisy’s stories – and I simply can’t wait to see what May’s adventures bring too! This is absolutely full of the representation that kids need to see in their books. If you’re not reading Murder Most Unladylike, you’re certainly doing something wrong.
I would also like to add, thanks so much to my friend Amy (check out her blog, it’s fab!!) who encouraged me to start this series because I haven’t looked back since that day!
I’m back today for another author interview with another amazing author! And as usual, before I dive in, I’d like to take a minute to remind you about the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, especially during Pride month. We need to support and elevate the voices of Black people now more than ever. Read, sign, share, donate! It’s no longer okay to be silent.
Today we have one of my most anticipated interviews – the incredible Robin Stevens! I’m not joking when I say I literally lost it when I found out Robin agreed to an interview! She is the author of the fantastic Murder Most Unladylikeseries, with the final ninth instalment, Death Sets Sail, coming in August! You can pre-order it on Book Depository here!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Robin was born in California and grew up in an Oxford college, across the road from the house where Alice in Wonderland lived. She has been making up stories all her life.
When she was twelve, her father handed her a copy of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and she realised that she wanted to be either Hercule Poirot or Agatha Christie when she grew up. When it occurred to her that she was never going to be able to grow her own spectacular walrus moustache, she decided that Agatha Christie was the more achieveable option.
She spent her teenage years at Cheltenham Ladies’ College, reading a lot of murder mysteries and hoping that she’d get the chance to do some detecting herself (she didn’t). She then went to university, where she studied crime fiction, and then worked at a children’s publisher.
ABOUT MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE
1934. When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up a secret detective agency at Deepdean School for Girls, they struggle to find a truly exciting mystery to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia’s missing tie. Which they don’t.)
But then Hazel discovers the body of the Science Mistress, Miss Bell – but when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now the girls have to solve a murder, and prove a murder has happened in the first place before the killer strikes again (and before the police can get there first, naturally),
But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?
Hi Robin! Thanks for being a part of LGBTQMonth! You’ve got quite the collection of novels already. What was the one you had the most fun writing?
I’ve loved writing all of my books, but the one that has really stood out is Death in the Spotlight. I’m so proud of the twist in it, and I loved writing about Daisy’s coming out!
I loved that one too! As a children’s author, what do you think of the importance of LGBTQ representation in your work is?
I think it’s crucial. I had no frame of reference from my childhood about what a children’s book with LGBTQ+ characters in it might even look like, so for a long time I felt nervous about including queer characters in my own writing. But I’ve always been clear that I wanted to reflect the world I see around me in my books, and that means queer as well as straight characters. I’ve had the most unbelievable response to my LGBTQ+ characters, especially Daisy – I regularly get emails from young fans telling me how much it means to see someone like them in a book. What you read as a child influences you for the rest of your life, and I hope I’ve done a bit to show young queer people that they belong – both in books and in the real world!
That’s such a rewarding experience! Clearly there’s a lot of research necessary for the Murder Most Unladylike series and it really pays off. Do you enjoy doing research or is it more of a pain?
I love it! So much so that I over-research, and often only a little of what I know finds its way into my books – but I think it’s important that fiction should feel as real as possible.
Haha, amazing! What’s your own writing process like? How long does it take you to write a book?
I spend quite a while planning my stories – everything has to be set before I begin in terms of the crime. I then write a first draft in about three months, as fast as I can, and then spend about six more months editing and polishing with the help of my editor and my agent. Each book goes through about six drafts – it’s important to say that what makes it onto shelves is not that first draft!
So valid! Who are some of your favourite LGBTQ characters in books you’ve read or TV/Film you’ve watched?
It’s so exciting to be able to give a long list in response to this – LGBTQ+ media representation has transformed almost completely since my childhood. I’m currently watching the final season of She-Ra, and I’m particularly fond of Scorpia. The David/Patrick love story on Schitt’s Creek is wonderful, and I recently finished Pose, a show that felt like perfection from start to finish – I love all of the characters, but maybe Pray Tell is my favourite. In terms of books, Red and Blue from This is How You Lose the Time War, my very favourite novel from last year. Dean Atta’s The Black Flamingo and Nothing Ever Happens Here by Sarah Hagger-Holt are also wonderful – there are some brilliant children’s and YA books publishing at the moment.
Your house is on fire and you could only save one book. What would it be?
Logically, my signed copy of Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones. Realistically, I couldn’t choose!
Do you like to listen to music when you’re writing or do you prefer silence?
Silence when I’m writing, music while I’m editing. I get so lost in the world of my story I don’t need any more noise!
Daisy and Hazel are two amazing female detectives cherished by a lot of people. What do you make of the massive response Murder Most Unladylike has gotten?
It’s overwhelming! I never thought it would happen – it makes me so proud to know that readers love my characters as much as I do.
As they should! What is your biggest piece of advice for budding writers/detectives?
Pay attention to the world! Interesting stories are everywhere if you’re ready to pick them up.
Yess, great advice! And finally, Death Sets Sail, the final book in the MMU series (I’m not crying, I promise) is coming in August. What can we expect from Daisy and Hazel’s last hurrah?
Romance for both girls – they both get their first kisses! Oh, and their most dangerous mystery ever. This is the book I’ve been waiting years to write, and I can’t wait for everyone to read it!
Thank you so much for being part of #LGBTQMonth, Robin!!! I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I can’t wait for the release of the final MMU book! We were delighted to have you!
Death Sets Sail is published later this year in August, and I urge you all to go pre-order it—from your local indie bookstore if they have it, or anywhere else!
Schoolgirl detectives Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are at Daisy’s home, Fallingford, for the holidays. Daisy’s glamorous mother is throwing a tea party for Daisy’s birthday, and the whole family is invited, from eccentric Aunt Saskia to dashing Uncle Felix. But it soon becomes clear that this party isn’t really about Daisy at all. Naturally, Daisy is furious.
Then one of their party falls seriously, mysteriously ill—and everything points to poison.
With wild storms preventing anyone from leaving, or the police from arriving, Fallingford suddenly feels like a very dangerous place to be. Not a single person present is what they seem—and everyone has a secret or two. And when someone very close to Daisy looks suspicious, the Detective Society must do everything they can to reveal the truth… no matter the consequences.
I feel like it’s been a good while since I posted a review, even though my last one was the first book in this series. If you want to catch that, you can find it here. But today I’m going to be talking about Arsenic for Tea, the second novel in the Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries.
I really enjoyed the first book and I was expecting the same level of enjoyment for the second one – but it definitely surpassed my enthusiasm towards the first. I enjoyed this a lot more, and I’m not saying that the first one was bad or anything, I just felt as if Stevens had now fully fleshed out her main characters and their world and she’d really gotten the hang of writing them.
I also loved the plot and setting of this book so much too! I loved how we got to meet Daisy’s strange family and learn more about her history and life before Deepdean. As well as that, it’s very charming and written brilliantly. I totally got an Agatha Christie vibe as I was reading it and I’m so happy that Stevens chose to set these books during the 1930s. It really adds to the atmosphere of the story!
The who-dunnit mystery really keeps you on your toes for the entire book. I was always so unsure of who to assume and in the end I was not expecting who it was. It’s incredible that Stevens can be so talented as to not give the murderer away, in either this book or the one before it. I would highly recommend this book if you’re looking for something reminiscent of Agatha Christie or even Arthur Conan Doyle. You do not want to be sleeping on Miss Daisy and Hazel!
Deepdean School for Girls, 1934. When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up their very own deadly secret detective agency, they struggle to find any truly exciting mysteries to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia’s missing tie. Which they don’t, really.)
But then Hazel discovers the Science Mistress, Miss Bell, lying dead in the Gym. She thinks it must all have been a terrible accident – but when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now the girls know a murder must have taken place . . . and there’s more than one person at Deepdean with a motive.
Now Hazel and Daisy not only have a murder to solve: they have to prove a murder happened in the first place. Determined to get to the bottom of the crime before the killer strikes again (and before the police can get there first, naturally), Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects and use all the cunning, scheming and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?
Wow, it feels like ages ago when I read this book so it really shows me how much I need to catch up on my reviews!
But today I’m going to be talking about the first in the Wells & Wong series – Murder Most Unladylike. I’ve had this book (as well as the sequel) for so long now that it was only fair I eventually got around to it. I don’t know why I put it off for so long – I knew from its premise and the hype around it that it would be right up my street.
And right up my street it definitely was! I loved this book so much. It was fun and although the writing was simple it didn’t take away from my enjoyment! I loved Hazel as a protagonist and, although she got on my nerves at times, I grew to love Daisy too. I wasn’t expecting the ending/resolution at all so I thought Robin did a really good job of drawing out the suspense with the plot and finishing with an unexpected conclusion.
I also loved the 1930s setting of a girls’ boarding school! This was a solid opening novel to what I can only expect is to be a fantastic, thrilling series! I cannot wait to read all the next books! Also, special shoutout to my friend Amy at Golden Books Girl for encouraging me to begin this series and loving Hazel and Daisy for so long!